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Final: ASU 3, MSU 2, Spartans suffer heartbreaking loss on Valentine's Day

February 14, 2021

Typically they say the game is not over until the final whistle blows, but that was not the case in East Lansing for the Michigan State hockey team as they fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils 3-2 Sunday afternoon in late dramatic fashion.

Things could not have started off much worse for the Spartans, who were playing their first game in two weeks. After winning the opening draw, Arizona State carried the puck into the MSU defensive zone, fired a shot on net and then scored off a rebounded shot by senior forward Dominic Garcia just 13 seconds into the game.

Then a minute later, ASU got a grade A breakaway chance when MSU junior defenseman Christian Krygier slipped to the ice in the neutral zone. Redshirt junior forward Chris Grando fired a shot that beat Michigan State starting goaltender Drew DeRidder, but the post gave the Spartans some love and kept the puck out of the net.

In the second period, there was another goal in the first minute, this time by the Spartans.

Senior forward Tommy Apap won a faceoff in the Arizona State zone, dropping it off for freshmen defenseman Nash Nienhuis, who kept swinging the puck to his partner, junior defenseman Dennis Cesana who unleashed a one-time slap shot. Meanwhile, Apap crashed the net and was able to get his stick on the puck for a beautiful redirection in between his legs.

Later in the second period, it looked like Arizona State took the lead, on a tip-in from senior forward Johnny Walker. However, the goal was immediately waived off and then reviewed and confirmed to be a no-goal for being played with a high stick.

The Michigan State penalty kill was tested at the end of the second period and into the third period when Krygier was assessed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for elbowing. The penalty kill unit stood strong though, giving the green and white a chance to take the lead in the final period.

It would be ASU though that would take the lead with 5:26 remaining on a redirected goal by Grando.

Now needing a goal to tie it up, the Spartans were gifted a power play with just over a minute left on a penalty by ASU’s defenseman Tanner Hickey.

Senior Mitchell Lewandowski ripped a shot from the right side of the ice on ASU starting goaltender Cole Brady. The MSU bench let out a roar, thinking the shot crossed the line, but play continued as the referees said the puck hit the crossbar.

A minute later, the play clock expired in what looked to be a 2-1 victory for Arizona State.

However, with all the players now on the ice thinking the game was over, the referees decided to take a look and see if Lewandowski’s shot did indeed cross the line. It was close, but Michigan State was awarded the tying goal and 1:04 was put back on the clock.

“I had no idea,” Lewandowski said on whether he initially thought his shot went into the net. “When the game ended I obviously wanted it reviewed like everyone else, just to kind of give us a chance. I had no idea. I just thought it hit the post, to be honest with you.”

Riding off the emotions trying to decipher what just happened, Arizona State went right back at it with a determination to win their sixth game of the year.

With 40 seconds left, ASU sophomore defenseman Jacob Semik, a Canton, Michigan native, squeaked a goal just past MSU DeRidder, putting the icing on the cake of an astonishing 3-2 victory.

“It definitely stinks, especially being out on the ice,” graduate student Charlie Combs said after being on the ice for the Sun Devils’ game-winner. “It sucks. There is no other way to put it. It hurts.”

For Michigan State, they got a few players back from injury and it showed the importance of having those guys back in the lineup.

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Combs, sophomore Nicolas Müller and Krygier all made their returns to the ice and played a part in the solid offensive outing of 38 shots on goal for the green and white.

Brady was fantastic in net for the Sun Devils making 36 saves. DeRidder was solid too, stopping 28 shots.

Michigan State will have a chance to split the series Monday evening as they are set to take on Arizona State for the final time of the year at 5 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.

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